Girls across the Islamic world continue to have a tough time getting an education. Many families would like to see their daughters educated so that they can support themselves, but most fear that violence will erupt against their daughters if they try to send them to school. Eric Ortiz for NBC News writes:
“In my travels, I’ve found that many families want to send their daughters to the classroom,” said Lisa Bender, an education specialist at UNICEF. “But they want to feel safe doing that.”
Violence against female students and teachers has escalated in recent years. Some Islamic extremists believe that a woman’s place is at home and condemn the “Western” idea that girls should be educated. Countries including Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, Syria, Pakistan continue to face problems with girls’ education, writes Ortiz. Many girls drop out of school after the age of 15 for reasons based on fear.
Recently, nearly three hundred girls were kidnapped from their schools in Nigeria. The Islamic extremist group that kidnapped them, called Boko Haram, has threatened to sell them into the sex trade or as wives to soldiers, writes Dirk Hanke for Communities Digital News. Recently, the leader made a demand that he would trade the girls’ safe return in exchange for his soldiers in Nigerian prisons.
Malala Yousafzai has since spoken out against Boko Haram, saying that they are forgetting that Islam calls for peace, reports Eline Gordtz for The Huffington Post. Malala was a twelve year old girl when the Taliban raided her school bus and shot her in the face and neck for being outspoken about girls’ education and being anti-Taliban. She lived, had multiple surgeries, and has since moved to the United Kingdom. She is now speaking out for the girls and asking for their safe return. She says their plight is not unlike her own and calls them her “sisters.” Catherine Garcia for The Week quotes Malala as saying:
“It is what happened in Swat as well,” she said. “In Swat we were suffering…. Girls were banned from going to school and banned from going to market, and the same is happening in Nigeria. They were in schools trying to study, thinking about their future, and then suddenly some people came and abducted them.”
Malala asks the girls not to lose hope and tells the girls that the world is with them and looking for them. Daily protests in Nigeria and an international outcry seem to support this, writes Garcia. Nigeria has pledged a $300,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the girls, but some fear that it is too little, too late. The United States, Britain, France, and other countries have pledged help as well in finding the girls.